Letter from Henry James to Lawrence Barrett
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- Virginia Faust
(3 Bolton St. W.) 15 Esplanade, [underline] Dover: Aug. 11th [/underline] Dear Lawrence Barrett: Your letter (of the 28th) breathes so liberal a spirit that I am al- most ashamed to say I still find your proposal impracticable. [page break] I simply don't, & can't, see a [underline] play [/underline] in the "Portrait", & find my own conviction unsurmountable that such a play, at least, as I should desire to write, cannot come out of it. There are very fixed limits in regard to what i should be willing to do in the way [page break] of "going back", as it were, on the novel, by altering & working over the [strikethrough]?[/strikethrough] story as then put forth. Any very material changes would [savour?], to me, of parodying, or giving away, one's own production. A writer must see such a matter as this with his own eyes- if he is [page break] to see it at all, & I am afraid I shouldn't be able to see it with yours, even if we were to talk the matter over, great as are the inducements which you offer to such an effort. I thank you very kindly for the facilities you hold out for my coming over to look into the [page break] thing. Even if my state of mind (as to the particu- lar suggestion) were less sceptical, I should not be able to cross the water this year. Nor would I be able to get at the production of a play before January 1st. You see to what extent [---] conversations are against [page break] my throwing myself into your vision. I am afraid I can console myself & you (if [strikethrough]?[/strikethrough] you need consu- lation), only by saying, in a gene- ral way, that I should be glad to try something next year. But it would- n't, it couldn't, be the "Portrait".- I am not as yet prepared to say [page break] what it [underline] would [/underline] be, but I should [underline] probably [/underline] be pre- pared to write you a play, to take or to leave, as you should like it or not, on the chance that if you [underline] should [/underline] like it, it would open the door to my acquiring a goodish sum of money. This would leave us [page break] both our liberty, & the stake, for me, would be worth while. I will devote my- self meanwhile to thinking out a big situation, inter- national if possible; & if you don't hear from me it will be [strikethrough]?[/strikethrough] because I haven't been able to think of one big enough. Perhaps next year you will come this way? Ever faithfully Yours [underline] Henry James [/underline]
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